Diabetes, a disease which causes your blood glucose, or blood sugar, to be too high. Termed, the ‘silent killer,’ diabetes, if not managed properly, can be a life-threatening metabolic disorder.
Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy.
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems, such as damage to your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb.
Here in Jamaica, the Ministry of Health (MOH) notes that diabetes, along with other chronic non-communicable diseases, actually account for over 56% of deaths, island-wide. Diabetes is the second leading cause of death for Jamaicans under 70 years old It ranks as the leading cause of death for women in this age group and third for men.
Different kinds of diabetes can occur, and managing the condition depends on the type. Three major diabetes types can develop Type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
- Type I diabetes: Also known as juvenile diabetes, this type occurs when the body fails to produce insulin. People with type I diabetes are insulin-dependent, which means they must take artificial insulin daily to stay alive.
- Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body uses insulin. While the body still makes insulin, unlike in type I, the cells in the body do not respond to it as effectively as they once did. This is the most common type of diabetes and it has strong links with obesity.
- Gestational diabetes: This type occurs in women during pregnancy when the body can become less sensitive to insulin. Gestational diabetes does not occur in all women and usually resolves after giving birth.
Some of the signs and symptoms associated with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin)
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections
Exercise, weight control and sticking to your meal plan can help control your diabetes. You should also monitor your blood glucose level and take medicine if prescribed.
If you suspect, you or your child may have diabetes. If you notice any possible diabetes symptoms, contact your doctor. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes. After you receive your diagnosis, you’ll need close medical follow-up until your blood sugar levels stabilize.
World Diabetes Day is being observed on November 14The Diabetes Association of Jamaica (DAJ) was established in 1976, to chart programmes and services that would encourage the primary prevention of the disease and the secondary prevention of complications associated with it. To get help or learn more about the disease call 1-876-927-6774 or email [email protected].
Your health…is your responsibility.